Saturday, September 21, 2019

Book Review: Everyday Brave

To write Everyday Brave: Living Courageously as a Woman of Faith Janet Thompson invited her Facebook audience to tell about the bravest thing they’ve ever done. She then added those stories to stories of 50 Bible women to give us a book that echoes our own stories. Who hasn’t had to wrestle up the courage to obey the Holy Spirit’s prompting, to forgive an abuser, to love unconditionally, to hike the Grand Canyon? Maybe we didn’t think of our actions as being brave, but they required courage.

Chapter titles include “Brave Waiting,” “Brave Discernment,” “Brave Trust” and “Brave in Rejection.” On these pages, you’ll meet both famous and ordinary, even unnamed, Bible women with lessons drawn from their lives. For instance, did you know scholars believe Phoebe carried Paul’s letter to Rome, the letter that included “the Roman road to salvation”? Did you ever consider what Abishag may have given up to become David’s concubine in his old age? I liked the insight the author’s study brought to the biblical stories.

And along with Bible women, you’ll meet fellow travelers on this road of life who offer hope and courage to face your own fears—Nancy, Terri, Yuri, to name just a few. Thompson’s writing is clear and challenging. In “Brave in Business” she writes “It takes great courage to do right in a world legalizing wrong, but there is no right way to do the wrong thing. You’ll never regret choosing God’s way.”

I liked the book’s short chapters ending with “Getting Your Brave On” discussion questions that can be used personally or with a group.   Each chapter opens with an appropriate quote and a scripture verse. Back matter includes a short guide for leading small groups or book clubs, a prayer and praise journal, notes and information about the author’s “About His Work” ministry.

This is a great book for personal reflection, gift giving or group study. Everyday Brave will certainly help you “get your brave on” and step out in faith to face life’s challenging situations.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Who Are You?

As I walked into a fitting room, a woman exited a booth on the left and moved to an end booth. She turned around, facing the door, and started picking through a cart of clothes. I went into the booth she exited and found four walls with two hooks. Period. No bench. No chair. Nowhere to put the clothes I would be taking off or the shirts I had draped over my arm that were not on hangers. Where would I set my purse?

I looked out and said to the woman sorting through the cart, “Is there no booth with benches?”

“Oh,” she said, “this one has a bench; I’m finished here. Use this one.”

So I did. When I came out, she was coming out of the first booth I had entered, so I asked if I could just leave my extra clothes there on a rack. She said, “Just put them on the end.” Then I asked if I could leave the folded items on her cart, assuming she was sorting clothes to return to the racks. “Oh,” she said, “I don’t work here.”

I was dumbfounded. I assumed she was an employee. I profusely apologized, of course. I said, “You gave up that booth for me. You are so nice!” “Sure,” she said, “I am nice to people who are nice to me.” She told me to just leave the folded clothes on a little bench, and after thanking her again, I went on my way.

I had mistaken her identity.

I just saw the movie “Overcomer,” and it’s all about who we are in Christ. Sometimes we don’t just mistake another’s identity, we forget our own. In the movie, Priscilla Shirer, playing the role of a high school principal, led the lead character to Christ. Then she told her to go home and read Ephesians 1 and 2 and list all the things she learns she is. It shows the teenage girl making a list.

Don’t mistake your own identity. You are:

·       Chosen by God. I was always picked last for recess teams in elementary school because I wasn’t very physically adept. That hurt. But God has chosen me to be part of His family. What a privilege! I belong. You belong. We need never again feel rejected by any person or group. “For he chose us in him . . . to be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 1:4

·       Forgiven. I have regrets. We’ve all made mistakes, done wrong things. We have offended others and possibly abused our power somewhere along the way. We’ve certainly offended God in one way or another. But with Christ’s death on the cross, we are forgiven. No sin is too ugly. No wrong is too great. God forgives us—if we ask His forgiveness through Christ. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 1:7

·       Given grace. God offers grace through every situation of life, the good, the bad and the ugly. Look at the survivors around you. Ask them how God has been faithful in the most trying situations. “In accordance with the riches of God’s grace . . . .” Ephesians 1:7

·       Given God’s Spirit of wisdom and revelation. With the Holy Spirit in our lives, He serves as our Counselor and Friend. He comforts, guides and informs our lives. After my devotional time, I sometimes write a note to myself from God. I start “Dear Shirley,” then I write what I feel I’ve drawn from my time of Bible reading and prayer. Yes, I realize what I write may be my own earthy thoughts. But I do believe if we are serious about our relationship with God, He is serious about touching our lives, guiding us, in the here and now. Try it. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Ephesians 1:17

·       Created to do good works. We are not just pretty faces. God has a purpose for our lives. Whether it’s to our family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances or just people we meet along life’s way, there’s a way for us to brighten their corner. Shine that light. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 1:10

Ephesians was written at a time when commerce flourished as silversmiths sold images of the Roman goddess Diana while Christians faced harsh persecution. Paul wrote to remind the Ephesians that they may not be rich in the eyes of the world but they have spiritual riches in Christ.

I just got my Real ID. It has a gold star on the corner that allows me to enter federal buildings and go through airport security. But more important is our Real Heavenly Identity, which means God walks with us on this earth and assures us of a place in eternity.

Read Ephesians 1 and 2, and then praise God for His goodness to us!